Posted On 05 Jul 2018
Singer-songwriter Meiko‘s new album ‘Playing Favorites’ has officially debuted at #17 on the Heatseeker Albums Chart and #23 on the Folk Album Sales Billboard charts. It is also ranking at #5 on the Heatseeker Middle Atlantic Chart.
‘Playing Favorites’ is a collection of re-imaginations of the songs that Meiko fell in love with as a teenager in the 90’s, and that got her through some of the toughest years of her life. She transforms classics like The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” Sade’s “No Ordinary Love,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” Blind Melon’s “No Rain,” Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” Duran Duran’s “Come Undone,” Portishead’s “Wandering Star,” Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” and more into her signature hyper-intimate brand of acoustic indie-folk. This collection was released on May 25th via Chesky Records.
“I’ve always wanted to record these songs, and thought it would be cool to make a record of all of them in one go. I chose these tracks because I’ve loved them for years. Some of these songs have gotten me through some hard times. Quintessential songs that are always playing in my head…or [in my] car.”
Part of the Chesky Binaural+ Series, all recorded with a single binaural microphone in a decommissioned church in Brooklyn, the band appears right before you with this spacious, lush and multi-dimensional recording. These new albums capture even more spatial realism for the listener, bringing you one step closer to the actual event. You will hear some of the most natural and pure music ever recorded.
“It was really interesting recording the way we did because…I was able to hear all the nuances. Every breath and foot tap. It was a very intimate setup that caught every little thing which makes the listener feel like they’re right there and I’m singing to them.”
Joining her for the album are longtime collaborators, Josh Day (percussion) and Ed Maxwell (bass, synth). Additionally, Casey Abrams joins the team on bass for the cover of Portishead’s “Wandering Star.”
“I’ve been playing with my band for maybe 10 years. I met Ed at a little studio where I was recording my first record. The drummer is Josh Day. I love both of these guys so much. We had mutual friends and we started playing together on a whim and have been very very good friends ever since.”
Meiko has built a loyal following since her wildly successful self titled release in 2007, along with subsequent releases The Bright Side, Dear You, Lovers & Fighters, Live Songs from The Hotel Cafe, and Moving Day. Her albums have spawned the hits “Boys With Girlfriends”, “Stuck on You”, “Leave the Lights On”, and have been featured in TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and The Vampire Diaries (among others).
“I’m really excited for people to hear these songs the way they’re recorded because I often have people tell me they wish I’d record more live material. There’s something about ‘the real’ of singing live — the real parts that get lost in the recording process because of all the fixes that happen in the studio. It’s real life, and I hope people appreciate that part of it. There’s a magic to it.”
The first song from the album to reach listeners was “Zombie”, penned by the late Dolores O’Riordan. With the album
having been recorded in September of 2017, the unfortunate and untimely passing of O’Riordan prompted the single to be released in advance of the album in tribute in late January 2018. Described as a “haunting rendition” by HardRock.com, the track sets the scene for the newest singles, “Crush”, made famous by 90’s star Jennifer Paige, and a refreshing re-imagining of Rick James’ “Super Freak”, that will forever change the way you hear the song.
While well established for crafting eloquent and poignant songs of her own, Playing Favorites showcases Meiko’s ability to revisit works familiar to us all and add her own personal touch to them. Whether you’ve lived with these songs all of your life, or are discovering them now, Meiko has the rare ability to make it seem as though you’re hearing them for the first time.
Connect With Meiko Here:
Learn more about Meiko in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
This interview finds me in Hamburg, Germany. My husband, our 2 year-old son and I moved here about 3 weeks ago! Everyone’s sleeping and I’m enjoying the quiet.
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your music career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it?
2018 has been interesting. I find myself writing a lot more. Everyday seems to give me so much new material. Being a mother should be enough, but I’ve also been very inspired to write more songs about being a woman in this world and the bad-ass-ery that comes along with it.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Music has been everything to me since I can remember. I guess my first memory was when I was in kindergarten, I started an all-girl group called “The Cool Girls Club”. We stood on top of 3 tree stumps in a triangle formation and did synchronized dancing… We practiced everyday during recess.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? Has there been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I’m not sure if there’s been any big surprises… I guess I always knew I’d be doing this as a career (sorry if that sounds cocky – haha!). I just believed in my dream and couldn’t see doing anything else. I used to daydream about being a superstar growing up. But honestly, I feel extremely lucky to have this low-key career so I can focus on things that also matter to me like being a mom
and seeing the world.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today? What is the music scene like there these days?
I grew up listening to classic rock with my dad, but I also had a hunger for new music discovery. I’d hear a song playing in a store and I’d find out who it was and buy their CD the next day. That’s how I learned about Frente! I heard their music in the Journeys shoe store while I was working at the local mall. I also automatically loved the new music my older sister loved. She moved to Atlanta when she graduated high school and her roommate worked at Geffen Records. I was turned on to so many amazing bands and singers (e.g. Portishead, Sade, Mary J Blige, Outcast, Flemming and John). Not really sure yet what the music scene is like here in Hamburg but I hope to dig in!
How would you say that you have grown as an artist since you first starting making music? What has remained the same? How do you think becoming a mother in 2016 has changed the kind of music or rather the kind of artist that you are now? Or do you not believe that it did?
I’ve grown as an artist since I started making music because I’ve grown as a woman. Earlier, I would write a lot about heartbreaks. Now I write more about the world around me and how it makes me feel. Being a mother hasn’t changed my music very much but it has changed the way I write. Having a baby is so full-on, I really have to make time to
write. Even when I’m exhausted at the end of the day I pick up my guitar and sing. Sometimes something comes to me and when it does, I know that’s my golden time.
Let’s talk about your newest album, “Playing Favorites.” What was it like going into the studio to put this collection together? Did you approach it any differently then you previous ones? How did you go about selecting the songs that would be on this album? Was that difficult narrowing it down?
I loved making this record because it was all live. I got to record it in one full day with my good friends Ed Maxwell and Josh Day in a beautiful abandoned church in Brooklyn. We had the best time. I picked all the songs that I loved in high school which made it all the more fun. I recorded about 20 songs, but narrowed them down by picking the best-sounding recordings.
As a HUGE Erykah Badu fan, I was very curious how you would cover her great song, “Bag Lady” and I love your version! How did you come up with that arrangement for it? Were any of them harder to arrange then others?
Thank you! I love her too. That song always follows me around because I’m a bit of a hoarder myself, and I have to remind myself to “let it go… let it go… let it go…” It was actually pretty easy to put the song to guitar – thankfully!
What do you think makes for an ideal show for you? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far? Do you have any upcoming shows this summer?
I like a listening crowd. Clanking forks and knives or a few loud people in an otherwise quiet setting makes it really hard for me to
focus. I love small theaters like the Doris Duke Theater in Honolulu, or the One World Theater in Austin. There are so many beautiful places all over America where the setting really calls for a quiet audience.
I’m playing a couple of shows in Hamburg that I’m really excited about. I know I’m just starting fresh here but it’s so exciting taking all the things I’ve learned about performing and the music business and utilizing it in a new setting. Plus, I weirdly get off on performing for people who have no idea who I am. There’s something magical about hearing the crowd start off so noisy and then quieting them with just a song. I’ve got a few Stateside shows coming up in September – I’m looking forward to getting back to Los Angeles for a visit!